This month in tribute to David Austin, who passed away aged 92 in December, we feature, without doubt, the most well-known of all the many fine roses he has bred and grace the gardens of rose lovers around the world.
‘Graham Thomas’ is well-known to all rose lovers for its deep golden yellow cupped blooms which appear in clusters all season long. Bring the inside to enjoy in a vase or leave for a great garden display. The fragrance, while not the strongest of the Austin roses, is rather pleasing.
At home in England, ‘Graham Thomas’ is a well-contained shrub but the mild climate of New Zealand gives it a bit more vigour and is actually best grown as a climber on a fence or pergola. Generally, it is healthy but can succumb to disease as the season progresses.
Named for noted English horticulturist, author and garden designer Graham Stuart Thomas (1909 – 2003), it’s the only English rose to be inducted into the World Federation of Rose Societies Hall of Fame in 2009. Along with ‘Mary Rose’ and ‘Heritage’ it also gave David Austin extensive publicity when released at the Chelsea Flower Show in 1983 and led to much more interest in the English roses.
Members of the New Zealand Rose Society also rate it highly. It has constantly featured in the list of top favourite shrub roses for many years and currently ranks as the third most popular shrub rose for 2019.
Vale David Austin (1926 – 2018)
By Hayden Foulds
Hayden also serves as Deputy Chairman of the World Federation of Rose Societies Rose Trials Committee amongst other rose endeavours.